Best Picture

[6.5] Tom McCarthy (The Station Agent) cowrites and directs this true story of a Boston investigative newspaper team who expose the Catholic Church for covering decades worth of pedophilic activity by over 87 priests in the city. Spotlight‘s not a sentimental movie about the actual crimes being committed, though you will see some survivors talk about their painful memories. The film centers squarely on the …

[7.5] Close-knit friends from a mining community share a harrowing experience during their tour of duty in Vietnam. Michael Cimino’s three-hour long film focuses primarily on the aftermath of the ordeal, now one of the most famous scenes in movie history, a deadly game of Russian roulette forced upon prisoners at a POW camp. Robert DeNiro plays the most level-headed friend, who tries to help …

[7.0] An unusual sequel of sorts, The Godfather Part II spends equal time in the past and the present, exploring the early life of Vito Corleone (with Robert DeNiro taking over the mantle from Marlon Brando) while also following the continuing story of Vito’s son Michael (Al Pacino reprises his role). Thematically and emotionally, the movie¬†plays like a long and redundant epilogue to the first …

[7.5] Sidney Poitier plays a black Northern detective who reluctantly aides a white Southern sheriff (Rod Steiger) in solving a murder case. The mystery itself is a bit thin, but it’s bolstered by good performances from the leads and a commendable handling of volatile subject matter. (Though the film takes place in Mississippi, the film’s crew decided to shoot no further south than Tennessee for …

[3.0] A Jew and a Christian compete in the 1924 Olympics, both running in the name of God and adversity. I’m sorry to say I just couldn’t give a shit. I couldn’t empathize with their motivations. They feel God when they run. Good for them. It would at least be nice if the two competed against one another in the third act, but they don’t. …

[7.0] In colonial Kenya, a Danish baroness has an ongoing affair¬†with a big game hunter. On one hand, Sydney Pollacks’ Oscar-winning best picture is long and subdued. But on the other hand, it does a great job transporting you to another time and place. The wildlife, cinematography, and music score (another fine work from John Barry) will whisk you away whether you want whisked or …

[5.0] This early Oscar-winning best picture is uneven at best. Richard Dix makes for a hammy lead, while Irene Dunne is stuck playing his harpy of a wife. The film follows the two as they move west to Oklahoma at the end of the 1800s. The second half of the movie skips through so much time and character development, I felt pretty discombobulated by the …

[6.0] Charlton Heston headlines an ensemble cast in Cecil B. DeMille’s The Greatest Show on Earth. We’re talking, of course, about the Circus — and the lives of the people who put it on. Heston plays the owner and manager of the sprawling, traveling outfit. Betty Hutton is the love interest he has no time for, while Cornel Wilde plays the hunky trapeze artist who …

[5.5] This early Best Picture Oscar winner is a three-hour mix of song, dance, and narrative, much like Broadway Melody before it. I was expecting a real stinker, especially when the opening credits revealed “Fashion Parades by Adrian”. But apart from being overly long and anachronistic, it wasn’t so bad. The narrative is fashioned loosely around the life of Broadway’s legendary Florenz Ziegfeld Jr (the …

[8.0] Director Steve McQueen (Hunger, Shame) brings to life the true-life story of Solomon Northup, a free black man from New York who is kidnapped and sold into Southern slavery. Northup endures two different owners and many harrowing experiences before attempting to reach out for help from his friends in the North. McQueen succeeds in making very palpable the fear and danger that comes in …

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